The Inn at John O'Groats

A £2.5 million renovation project, with timber at its core, has given a new lease of life to the former John O'Groats Hotel at the world famous landmark.

About this project

The Project

Situated at the most northern tip of mainland Britain and constructed in 1875, the former John O’Groats Hotel had suffered from more than a decade of neglect, becoming a blight on the world famous location. Now, thanks to a £2.5 million renovation and redevelopment project conceived by hotel-operator Natural Retreats and delivered by architects GLM, the hotel has a new lease of life.

Using local skills, labour, and native Scottish Larch, the redevelopment included restoring the hotel’s whitewash exterior, slate roof and gabled windows. The new structure consists of a traditional timber kit manufactured 20 minutes from the town and features limited steel reinforcement.

The timber was chosen given its good durability as a material for exteriors and was painted in a variety of colours to juxtapose the natural surrounding environment. The design was inspired by Scandanavian fishing villages to mirror the Norse heritage of Caithness and the traditional British beach hut.

Although it would have been cheaper to demolish, the partnership between Natural Retreats and Heritage Great Britain decided to remodel the building with a view to creating better accommodation for tourists visiting the historic town.

The project has added a new vibrancy to an area, sitting within a wider development of 23 high-end holiday residences, a café and a shop. The scheme has already helped increase visitor numbers, from 110,000 to 250,000 annually and has been met with critical acclaim in Scotland.

Photos courtesy of Pip Rustage 


Key contacts



Construction Managers


Timber suppliers


Back to Case Studies

Submit a case study

Share your timber projects with us and we will feature them on this site and via our newsletter.

Submit case study

Get the Wood for Good Newsletter